Tag Archives: pain

Death Without a Funeral

26 Oct


It’s a death without a funeral.*

There’s been a recent death in my life.  It’s not a person or a pet, but a church.  I have said goodbye to my old church.  This move, orchestrated by God, has caused a loss of community, a loss of purpose, a sense of being displaced, and a sense of identity loss.

Who am I now and where do I belong? It’s like looking to the sky to see God as a cloud leading me somewhere new and on the darkest of nights trusting His pillar of fire to watch over me.

It’s moving on.

A final goodbye.

Don’t look back.

Just keep moving forward.

Leaving this church is one of the most painful experiences of my life.  I came in those doors so wounded and torn up by the world after not going to church for seven years.  I experienced healing, was challenged in my faith, and I grew.  I became strong. 

And because of it, I’m now strong enough to leave.

God is telling me that it is time to move on.  And like Abraham, like Moses, like so many who have gone before, I must follow where my God has called me.  Whatever the reasons for leaving a church—any church—the main reason should and must always be a calling from God.

I wasn’t sure I should blog about this, but as I googled “leaving a church” I didn’t find any helpful information.  I didn’t find people grieving the loss.  I simply found articles with bullet points on knowing when to leave and when to stay.

It goes so far beyond a bullet point.

We want to fancy it up with church talk.  We want to wrap it up in a pretty bow, like because God called us to do it means it isn’t hard.  Because God called us to do it, we didn’t scream our hearts out on the living room floor every day for a week.  We pretend leaving our ministries doesn’t rip us all apart.  We wear these “holy masks” and say everything is just fine.

But everything is not fine.  Goodbyes are hard, particularly this one because, for me, it’s a tearing away.  I feel like I’m losing a piece of myself.  I know the reasons God is moving me, yet I feel like some sort of refugee.  I’m bewildered, don’t know how to fit into the new mold of a new church, and I’m so lost and lonely.

I know I’ll be OK.  I know I’m grieving right now, but just as the dying leaves fall from the trees only to bud in the spring, so will I.  There’s just a long winter of the soul ahead—a time to rest, reflect, and snuggle up with God.  Sometimes a winter has to come to force us to look at the One who truly gives life.  I trust Him to provide what I need in this transition.

I tell myself the truth. Day after day.  And it hurts less and I haven’t cried in a few days now.  I’m finding sustenance and joy in God, almost like I had to become wounded like this to feel Him again.  Almost like my heart had to split wide open with this wound to start beating again.

To quote C.S. Lewis, “There are far better things ahead than what I leave behind.”  I am choosing to run towards the better things ahead. 

And when I need to, I bow my head in grief and scream out to God to ease my pain.  I struggle as I grieve this death, this death without a funeral. 

This is my funeral, my final goodbye, my laying to rest. It’s in these words I find peace and on my blog I place a gravestone.  I build an altar here, dedicate it to God, and remember this holy moment.

*I borrowed the title “Death Without A Funeral” from singer/songwriter Jason Gray.  The song can be found on his latest release, Where the Light Gets In. You can watch a video where Jason talks about “Death Without a Funeral” here or listen to the song itself here.

God will redeem this

28 Mar

Sometimes life just hurts.  Today is like that.

I waited for almost 40 days to bring home my new shih tzu puppy.  I was ecstatic, proudly showing her photos to anyone who seemed remotely interested. 

I brought her home last Wednesday, and today she is going to a new home with a middle school girl who will give her everything that this dear little puppy needs.

The main reason I had to re-home my puppy is because she was crying and shrieking like a wild banshee for most of the night since BFF Sarah and I brought her home.  Since we live in an apartment, not only were we sleep-deprived, so were our neighbors.  Therefore, with much prayer and trepidation, I gave her up–my puppy, my dream, my much-anticipated birthday present.  But I know that God will use her to bring joy to someone else and she will be a blessing.

Naturally, I am upset…devastated really.  I lost my senior dog in January and now this.  Fortunately, I serve a God who binds up broken hearts, and I know He is holding me close right now.  Please pray for me and Sarah as we grieve the loss, pray for the family who is getting this puppy, and also pray for the puppy herself.

I thought about glossing over this issue, not saying a word, or just hiding my pain.  But I choose to be transparent, to let you see me raw because I so desperately need your prayers.  Also, this is real life; I don’t want to hide my reality. 

As always, thank you for your understanding, faithful prayers, and for standing by me through was seems like a whirlwind.  And I thought 2012 was going to be a better year. But who knows what God is doing with all this?  I do know that He takes ashes and makes beauty, that He redeems all things.

Take 5 with The Glorious Unseen

24 Aug

On a day of heavily anticipated new releases, The Glorious Unseen’s sophomore project, The Hope That Lies In You (BEC Recordings) could easily be overlooked, which is precisely why Backseat Writer is choosing to highlight this amazing album.  The Glorious Unseen’s music can technically be defined as worship, but it doesn’t let loose with the same lame hooks and rhythms.  Lead singer Ben Crist makes sure to provide original material with heartfelt lyrics that rightly reflect upon God’s glory.  Plus, The Glorious Unseen’s musical component is intriguing, sometimes melancholy, but always fresh. Because he’s awesome, Ben kindly agreed to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer.

The Glorious Unseen isn’t like most worship bands I’ve heard.  What makes your band fresh and unique?

The thing I always hear from people is that it’s the lyrics that primarily set it apart from other stuff.  There’s just a real vulnerability and honesty in the lyrics. I’m just writing from my personal experiences. I’m not exactly trying to write worship songs – but that’s usually how it turns out. I’m just putting myself into my art, and wanting to convey what’s on my heart. The lyrics definitely set it apart from most modern worship. The music does as well for sure; it’s all around pretty unique. For this reason, it has taken a bit longer to really “catch on” in that Christian market – because it is so unique. But it is definitely filling the void in the Christian music scene, so I feel that it will continue to gain momentum.

Tell me about the album’s title track, “The Hope That Lies In You.” What’s the underlying message of this song?  And is it the message that runs through the entire album? (Side note: Whenever I listen to this song, tears well up in my eyes. I love it.)

Yes, this is the overall message of the whole album – that despite what is going on in the world around us, there is a hope that lies within each one of us – and mainly in God. We don’t have any hope in ourselves apart from God. So, with God, there is a hope that lies within us – through God. This is kind of a “battle-cry” to modern day Christians that may be struggling with apathy and depression. We need to get up and go out and have an impact. We need to be reminded of this hope we have in Christ.  No more sitting around and being depressed – time for action.

The album’s first single, “Heavyhearted,” talks about God’s grace in the midst of wandering and shame. Would you please share about a time when you’ve felt heavyhearted and how you worked through it?

Ummm – today? Yesterday?  Every day?  Haha. Yeah, I mean there are times every day where I’m struggling with some feelings of being disconnected from God’s presence. Certainly, there are times when I feel this more than other times, but really, the deal is that God wants to pour our His love for me at every moment. He always wants to take me back in the midst of my struggle – in the midst of my shame – He wants to call me back to him right now!!! Even as I am typing this, He is calling me to his heart!! He is constant; he has no end. His love is totally huge and bigger than anything we have ever experienced.

There are so many amazing songs on The Hope That Lies In You.  Tell me about a couple of your faves, please!

It’s hard to pull one out right now because they’re all so new and exciting to sing right now!! I’m so stoked to start playing “Falling Into You,” “We Can Be Renewed,” and “Awakening.”  Man, I can’t wait to sing those lyrics.  They’re even more honest than the lyrics on the last record.  People have told me that the new lyrics are more serious even then the last record. I’m so stoked to get into those songs. It’s gonna be intense. There are some hardcore issues that we are dealing with in these new lyric–depression, separation, addiction, hope, pain, spiritual warfare. I expect these shows coming up to be intense.

Let’s move on to a lighter question—what’s one of the funniest things that happened while you were recording this album?

Hmmm… Probably the appearance of Trevor “The Phoenix” Mitchell. If you don’t know what that is – go watch our studio video blog.  That’s one of our producer’s pseudo personalities.

Hear My Heart

19 Oct

I hate cliches.  I especially hate them when I’m trying to communicate how I feel about a crappy situation. If someone says or does something unkind to me, I want you, my friend and confidante, to do what friends do–I want you to say you’ll beat the living daylights out of that offensive individual.   I want you to be on my side, even if I’m wrong.  I’ll come around and realize the folly in my logic (or lack thereof).

When I come to you, I want you to hear my heart.

I want you to notice the slight tremble in my voice, the fast pace with which I speak, and the sparkle of tears on my eyelids.  I don’t want to hear what I should do or how what happened does not matter because in this moment it matters a lot.  I’m not looking for advice; I’m looking for an ally.  You and me against this nasty world, right?

Sure, in the scheme of things this doesn’t really matter and it will pass.  Right now, it is consuming me; it is hurting me; it is draining me.  Part of letting it go is processing the pain with you; I want you to acknowledge my hurt, to identify with it, and to hear it as I speak.  Don’t dismiss it; don’t tell me that others feel that way; don’t tell me to think about something else.  If I could dismiss it, if I cared how others felt, if I could think about something else, don’t you think that I would?

I just want you to be sorry that I hurt and I want you to avenge my honor, even if it’s only in words.  Most of all, I want you to hear my heart, even if my words are folly.

I Called Him Poppy

8 Jul


Ninety-three years ago today one of the greatest men I’ve ever known was born.  He was the oldest of six children, and instead of going to college, went to work immediately after graduating from high school to help support his family during difficult times.  Eventually, he married an unfaithful woman and then got divorced.  He then married a war widow and had a son and a daughter with her.

He labored for many years on sewing machines–fixing, inventing, using, and improving them.  In fact, he could probably sew better than most women.  The relics of old sewing machines in his basement were fascinating to my young eyes.  His children grew and married.  His daughter had a daughter and his son adopted two children from Korea.

After retirement, he still fixed and mended whatever needed fixing or mending.  He’d show up at a family member’s house, toolbox in hand, whenever anything broke.  He loved his granddaughter who he called “Lightning”.  She never asked why, but she wishes she could.  He also loved his daughter to whom he granted power-of-attorney.

But the love of his life was his wife, Dorothy, who died six months before him.  He died that day with her, but his body just kept on going a bit longer.  If he hadn’t died in 2006, my grandfather Edwin W. Landis, who was born July 9, 1915 would be turning 93 today.

I just wanted his life to be remembered today because I loved him so much.  He was called lots of things by lots of people, but I just called him “Poppy”.

Kick Me Signs

30 Mar

I wonder if I’m wandering through life with a giant “kick me” sign, visible to the rest of the world but invisible to me. It’s been that kind of week, and it’s been topped off with a cherry of a family problem.

I feel like heading over to Amazon.com to buy multiple copies of Cloud and Townsend’s BOUNDARIES books. Unfortunately, I don’t have the power to change others, only myself, and how I deal with situations. Sometimes it’s hard enough to deal with me, much less the drama of others–at least those who thrust their drama upon me. Those who quietly seek assistance are always welcome. Besides, it seems like those closest to me are the ones who rip me up the most.

I keep thinking that I must be doing something terribly wrong because chaos encircles me like vultures searching for roadkill. I do my best to pray, read my Bible, and hide His Word in my heart–and I know that these disciplines are the only things that keep me somewhat sane in an otherwise maddening world. I know the gentle hope of God is my strength…I know all these things. Yet in my darkest moments, I wonder–why all the pain?

True, pain is a conduit for God to mold and shape His creation. Yet for some it’s an endless barrage of battles, misunderstandings, and baggage. When is enough actually enough? Is life just surviving through the next big thing, or do we actually find joy in the journey?

I don’t remember much about the movie Angels in the Outfield, but I can clearly recall this line (probably because it was in all the movie ads)–“You can’t go through life thinking that everyone you meet will one day let you down.” But everyone you meet will probably let you down…it’s just how far they let you fall and if they kick you when you’re down. It’s the kicking you when you’re down part I find hard to fathom.

This is a big ramble of raw emotion–hurt and anger–that I’m throwing out in cyberspace to achieve some sort of catharsis. Some may question the wisdom of that, but I realize the wisdom is in the questions, and even more in finding hope in the answers. We all wrestle with these things, and instead of pretending we don’t, I just want to be honest with people…because I know I certainly don’t wrestle alone.

Maybe to live is to wear a “kick me” sign. Jesus did say that in this world we would have much trouble and even His family didn’t understand His purpose. I guess Jesus wore just about the biggest “kick me” sign in the world when He died on the cross for our sins. So, how can we expect any less? It’s a good thing that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, because even so, it’s terribly hard to bear.

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